EUROCITIES members shared ideas on how cities in the EU and China can cooperate on sustainable urbanisation issues.
The discussion took place over lunch during our annual conference, EUROCITIES 2014 Munich, on 6 November. It was an opportunity for members to share their experiences and expectations when it comes to working with China on sustainable urbanisation issues.
Bristol’s mayor, George Ferguson, encouraged EUROCITIES mayors to act as ambassadors for the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership, which was signed in 2012 by former European Commission President Barroso and Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang. This would mean that European cities could speak with a single voice at high level political events organised within the partnership, saving time and resources.
With some 15 of our members around the table, it was clear that cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Malmo and Manchester are far advanced in their work with China. Reporting on their experiences, it became evident that while bilateral agreements do have a positive impact in terms of developing business opportunities, these agreements are seen as long term investments, given the time consuming nature of bilateral cooperation with China.
Nevertheless, there was general consensus that a regular exchange of best practices and experiences between EUROCITIES members could help strengthen EU-China cooperation and benefit cities that are just beginning their partnerships with Chinese counterparts.
This collaboration should be made easier thanks to our involvement in two EU-China projects, EC-LINK and GuiDanCe. EC-LINK aims to connect European and Chinese cities working on sustainable development issues, in order to promote business opportunities and knowledge transfer. GuiDanCe is designed to create a network of European and Chinese smart cities under the EU-China Urbanisation Forum.